Security situation in Nepal is satisfactory: Saudi envoy
Abdel Nasser Hussein Al-Harthy, 58, the first Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nepal, entered the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1985 immediately after graduating in Political Science from King Saud University.
Al-Harthy served as the Consul General in Saudi Arabia’s New York mission from 1994 to 1998, and from 1998 to 2001 he served as the Consul General in Egypt.
From 2002 to 2007, he was Head of the Consulate Department in Pakistan. He also served as the Charge d’ Affairs in the Pakistani mission.
From 2008 to 2013, he was Director General at the General Administration and Administrative Communications at the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia.
Ambassador Abdel Nasser Hussein Al-Harthy, who took up his assignment in Nepal on July 4, 2013, talked with .Arun Ranjit of The Rising Nepal recently. Excerpts:
As the first ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, how would you like to describe Nepal?
Nepal is a beautiful country laden with natural beauty and kind and generous Nepali people, whom I have known through my presence here and experienced through many Nepali friends. In addition, the safety and security situation found here is very satisfactory for any diplomat in the world.
How do you assess Nepal-Saudi Arabia relations? How can the ties be further strengthened?
The relation between Nepal and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is strong and friendly. There has never been any disagreement between the two countries. The opening of the Saudi Embassy in Kathmandu is evidence of the fact that the two countries are keen to strengthen their relations and facilitate the procedures for obtaining visas to enter the Kingdom.
How do you evaluate the trade ties between Nepal and Saudi Arabia? How can the trade volume between the two countries be boosted?
The volume of trade between the two countries at present doesn’t meet our expectations. It does not reflect the strength of the relations between the two countries. We hope to increase the trade through exchange visits of businessmen of both the countries. We can strengthen trade relations between the two countries by highlighting the investment opportunities in the respective countries.
What further role should the governments and the people of both the countries play to promote the art, culture and literature and social relationships?
There is no doubt that culture, art and literature have great roles in promoting relations between the people of the two countries, and we are keen to strengthen this aspect. The draft Agreement of Cooperation between the two countries contains articles that can help promote culture and sports exchange between the two countries.
As an ambassador from an oil-rich country, what is yours suggestions to the leaders here to bring about rapid socio-economic development?
First of all, I would like to point out that political stability in any country is the basis for smooth economic and social development. Before the unification of the Kingdom, it was also suffering from tribal rivalry and insecurity until it was consolidated by the founder of the Kingdom, King Abdulaziz. Then onwards, the Kingdom has witnessed development.
Secondly, education plays a very vital role in the development of any country.
Saudi Arabia is a major labour destination for Nepali migrant workers.
The Kingdom aims to help poor countries by creating job opportunities for their citizens. It determines the ratio of manpower to hire according to the need of the concerned country and recruits them.
As unemployment is high in Nepal, half a million jobs have been created for Nepali citizens in the Kingdom. In addition, the remittance from the migrant workers is contributing to the Nepali economy.
In order to ensure the rights of the two parties of the employment (employees and employers), the Kingdom has submitted a draft labour agreement, which has been discussed between the officials of the two Ministries of Labour at several meetings, and we are still awaiting approval from the Nepali side to sign it.
Will the recent diplomatic crisis with Qatar affect the Nepali migrant workers planning to go to Saudi Arabia as well as other Gulf nations?
Generally, the workers in the Kingdom have not been affected by the Qatar crisis.
Many projects are being funded by Saudi Arabia in Nepal (aid and loan assistance). Are those projects being implemented satisfactorily?
Would you like to identify areas Saudi Arabia would be interested in assisting Nepal in the future?
The Kingdom is assisting many countries in the world, especially the least developed countries. In the case of Nepal, the Kingdom grants soft loans through the Saudi Fund for Development for projects that Nepal needs and are currently concentrated in hydro-power and irrigation projects. The Kingdom is also ready to contribute to infrastructure projects in Nepal.